When most people hear the word “sober,” they associate it with addiction, alcoholism and complete abstinence from alcohol. In recent years, the term “sober-curious” has come into use, referring to people who may still drink, but consciously and consistently examine their relationship to alcohol and the role it plays in their life. Niki Sawni is co-founder of non-alcoholic beverage line Gruvi. He said that the sober-curious “may have a drink or two if the occasion is right but in general prefer themselves without alcohol.”
Who They Are
According to Gruvi, they are “Colorado’s first line of craft beers and wines without alcohol.” They aim to help people question the relationship between drinking and social interaction. Unlike large alcohol companies that may offer the occasional half-hearted, non-alcoholic product here and there, every Gruvi product is free of alcohol.
“Typically for non-alcoholic products, you remove alcohol from a full-strength beer or wine,” said Sawni. Their team felt that this also removed most of the flavor that keeps the drinks desirable. They instead decided to adjust their brewing process, allowing them to keep the flavor that consumers love. Each drink is also under 60 calories.
Sawni and his sister launched the company in 2019 as two people who identified as young, healthy, and social. “After college, we both started drinking less and realized that there were limited options for social drinks without alcohol,” he said. “At Gruvi, we don’t hate alcohol. We simply want to give people a better option to drink when they aren’t drinking. For those that are starting to question their relationship with alcohol, we love being a part of that journey.” Sawni and the Gruvi team suggest that people interested in the sober-curious movement try going a month without alcohol. This acts as a starting point for them to examine how they feel and evaluate their drinking habits moving forward.
Since starting, the company has grown to a team of seven. When referring to the brand’s name, they said that “the name Gruvi is a new take on the ’60s word ‘Groovy.’ We really wanted to bring back that meaning to a category that was generally considered pretty uncool,” said Sawni. His favorite part of the business is connecting with customers who have “found a place for Gruvi in their life. I love hearing stories about someone who used to miss their favorite hops and that we’ve been able to give that back to them—or people who’ve recently tried a dry month and are sharing how great it made them feel,” he said.
The Gruvi team feels that Colorado has turned out to be the perfect home for them. The non-alcoholic and sober-curious community is vibrant and growing here. Many of the residents are active, healthy and — before the pandemic — social. Sawni also commented on the thriving craft beer community in the state. “People want great beer whether that’s with or without alcohol!” he said. “We got lots of support when we were able to provide people with great non-alcoholic versions of their favorite IPA’s, stouts and sours.”
Awake, Denver’s first alcohol-free bar is open for curbside pickup, and hopes to open in person soon. Other local establishments are also offering non-alcoholic options to appeal to a community of people that don’t want their social life to revolve around alcohol.
Conscious Cocktail Club
The group that describes themselves as “Where Music + Mindfulness Go to Party,” has recently launched Conscious Cocktail Club, their new virtual offering. Each Conscious Cocktail Club member gets a monthly box shipped to them that includes an invitation to a virtual dance party, the supplies (including garnishes) for two non-alcoholic cocktails, and extra party accessories, like sunglasses and body glitter. The virtual event is called Secret Dance Addiction (SDA) and while SDA usually hosts big dance parties in person, these boxes allow the community to connect while still social distancing.
Gruvi has managed to keep their business up during the pandemic due to the non-alcoholic nature of the product. “Apart from some small supply chains challenges, we’ve been very fortunate during the pandemic,” said Sawni. Since there’s no alcohol in their products, they’re able to ship directly to consumer’s homes across the US. They’ve also seen a large increase in orders. “We’ve found that during this time, many people became introspective and have spent time to figure out what is important to them and what makes them happy,” he said. “As social interactions are limited, many people are giving an alcohol-free lifestyle a shot and enjoying the results.” Sawni and the Gruvi team expect over 25% of Americans to join them for Dry January in 2021.
All photos courtesy of Gruvi